Roman Painting Comparative Civilizations 12 K.J. Benoy Roman Painting – Relationship to Mosaics Similar techniques marked mosaic work and painting in the Roman period. Roman Painting – Relationship to Mosaics Though the Romans did not develop the ability to display three dimensions on two dimensional surfaces to the same level of competence as Renaissance artists, they came close. Only the mathematical precision was lacking. Roman Painting – Fresco Technique Much Roman painting decorated walls. The technique used was true Fresco. – This involved applying lime over a layer of plaster, mixed with sand over an upper layer of mixed marble and alabaster dust. True fresco involves applying paint to wet plaster. The painter must estimate the amount of plaster to be applied in a day. Unpainted plaster must be chipped away as it is of no use. Roman Painting – Paint. The most frequently employed pigments were earth tones. Less commonly used was cinnabar, which is the brilliant red found at the Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii. Roman Painting – Fresco Techniques The problem for the painter is that the colour applied may not be the colour that results. Cinnabar occasionally turned black with time. It is also a very expensive paint. Applied white always turned black. Gold leaf is occasionally used. Roman Painting - Pompeii Much of our knowledge of Roman domestic painting comes from the bad luck of Romans in the area of Mt. Vesuvius. Volcanic ash covered many Roman villas at Pompeii, Herculaneum and Boscorealle. Much of our knowledge comes from excavations of these sites. Roman Villas – Painted Decoration Artist’s reconstruction of a villa’s painted decoration by art historian Bettina Bergmann. Roman Painting – Four Styles The First Style The First Style: – This sometimes is referred to as the “masonry style.” – This involved geometrical patterns, especially blockwork. – Walls are often painted to imitate marble. Roman Painting – Four Styles The Second Style The Second Style involved: – Theatrical settings, like painted cityscapes. – The illusion of space is created. Roman Painting – Four Styles The Second Style The Second Style – This often involved inter-connected scenes that show a story – such as that of the walls in Pompeii’s Villa of the Mysteries. Roman Painting – Four Styles The Second Style Wall from Pompeii’s Villa of the Mysteries Roman Painting – Four Styles The Second Style Pompeii’s Villa of the Mysteries Roman Painting – Four Styles The Third Style The Third Style involved: – Movement away from architectural illusion and a turning to surface effects. – Pretty natural settings were often favoured. Roman Painting – Four Styles The Third Style The third style is often highly ornate. The decoration serves to frame smaller individual works of art. Roman Painting – Four Styles The Fourth Style The fourth style involved: – Ecclectic designs including a revival of the second style. – Painted narrative scenes. Roman Painting – Four Styles The Fourth Style This style is often marked by highly ornate images that reveal the artist’s close observation of how light plays on objects Roman Painting The naturalism and realism of Roman painting of the Republic and Imperial periods was quite remarkable and unsurpassed for over a thousand years, until the Renaissance. Roman Painting – Portraiture Unlike the Greeks, the Romans were keen to preserve accurate images of the dead. – This probably originated in the Roman veneration of ancestors. – Accurate images were made in death masks, busts and paintings. – Romans had no desire to annoy the dead. Roman Painting - Portraiture One of the richest sources of Roman portraiture is Fayum, in Egypt. Images of the dead lay in sarcophaguses during the Roman period, as before. What is new is the amazing realism of the encaustic painted images that have been recovered here. Roman Painting – Portraiture The Fayum Mummy Images Roman Painting – Christian Influence As in sculpture, Roman mosaics and paintings turned increasingly away from realism and toward symbolism. Figures are made more “spiritual” by separating them from a realistic background. They seem to float in space Roman Painting – Christian Influence This symbolic style, which began to be used in the catacombs of Rome and other Christian centers became the dominant art form of both the Byzantine Empire and the Germanic Christian West.
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